Hidden Messages

3Apr

What Kids Really Get From Anti-Smoking Ads

Lately, the tobacco industry has publicly spoken out against adolescents smoking cigarettes. At least, that’s how it seems on the surface. A closer look at their anti-smoking programs reveals what’s really going on.
‘It’s the Law’ Program
This program, put together by R.J. Reynolds, involves merchants placing signs indicating that the store doesn’t sell cigarettes to minors. What’s really going on?

The vast majority of adolescents are not asked for identification when buying cigarettes.
By making a big deal out of not selling cigarettes to minors but not enforcing the policy, the company is purposefully promoting cigarette smoking as an adult thing to do. This makes some kids want to smoke even more.
‘TV Commercials
These commercials frequently show kids trying to buy cigarettes, but getting caught in the act. They are carefully designed to deliver messages, which may be conflicting to teens and children.

Merchants shouldn’t sell cigarettes to minors.
Smoking is for adults only.
An adult watching the commercial is impressed that the tobacco companies are being responsible, but kids watching these commercials get a very different message. Namely, smoking must be cool if adults are the only ones supposed to be doing it.

In the end, these commercials are only making a bad situation worse, a point supported by the fact that teen-age smoking has been dramatically rising. Talk to your kids and ask them what message they are getting from these tobacco industry sponsored programs. You may be very surprised.

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